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on December 15, 2012
I used to be really into Denons AVRs. Had several units in pre-HD days and my most recent one before this 4520CI was an AVR-2805 that I loved. Then came HDMI and after having handshaking issues with Denon's initial offerings, I looked elsewhere. Enjoyed an Onkyo TX-NR905 for a while then replaced that with a Yamaha RX-Z7. Both were great. I purchased, tried, but eventually passed on a few Denon models at the time and went for these alternatives simply because in my opinion, they were overall better receivers than Denon's when I factored in sound, feature-set, and overall connectivity ease. While HDMI is still a pain to this day, some receivers handled it better than others.

Recently, my home theater needs have changed and I wanted a more current model that supported the latest fads and gimmicks. Happy with my RX-Z7, I initially decided to step up to another Yamaha, the RX-A3020 from their flagship Aventage line. Fantastic sounding receiver, typical of all Yamaha AVRs I've experienced, but with one big flaw: the HDMI handshaking bug existed in my unit. Without getting into too much detail with that issue, I decided to return the Yamaha and try others. Ordered a Denon AVR-4520CI which showed up DOA after likely being dropped several times by UPS from the damage to the box. This first shipment was not double-boxed like Amazon normally does and the result was apparent shipping damage. Since I was on a roll with my AVR misfortunes, I decided to order several other AVRs so I can try them all out. Ordered another 4520CI from Amazon, and a Marantz 7007 and Onkyo 5010 from another vendor. All arrived in one piece and after a week with these units, one came out clearly on top: the Denon AVR-4520CI.

I've never liked the Denon AVR sound of late because they didn't match well with my Monitor Audio speakers. The Onkyos and Yamahas fared much better in this regard. But with the 4520CI, they sound amazing, for both stereo music and 5.1-7.1 channel movies. I've read other reviews about how the outgoing Denon AVR-4311 model sounds similarly as good, but unfortunately I've overlooked that while my allegiance was in Yamaha mode. The Marantz falls a bit short here for some reason and I doubt it has much to do with the lower power rating. Don't get me wrong, the Marantz sounds good, but compared to the Denon and Onkyo, there's definitely something lacking. Best description I can give is that the Marantz was not as immersive in many of the surround modes, and also lacked impact. Musically however, it was on par. Perhaps it's the higher spec Audyssey XT32 on the Denon and Onkyo that gave them the edge over the Marantz? Whatever it was, the 4520CI and Onkyo 5010 are tops in my book among the latest breed of AVRs. And what sets the Denon apart from the Onkyo are the additional touches: better and more intuitive OSD, Airplay support, and Audyssey LFC (low frequency containment) which I must mention, works amazingly well for watching bass-heavy material late night in my condo building. Additional icing on the cake: the Denon 4520CI even has a 4-port ethernet switch built-in! Yes, it can even help you manage your home network especially after your router has run out of ports to accommodate your other other network-ready devices, consoles, and disc players. Let's face it, as our networked high-definition systems grow and warrant the need for more HDMI inputs, so does the need for network connectivity when wifi just won't cut it.

So the AVR-4520CI is a keeper. It sounds great, has all the features I wanted, and you won't believe how relieved I am that it does not have any HDMI handshaking issues in my system. Unboxed my 2nd unit (after returning the one damaged from shipping), made all the connections, powered up, ran initial setup and audsyssey, and within 30 mins I was up and running in 7.1 glory. Tested all the sources and all video and audio decoding (even high resolution audio like TrueHD and DTS HD Master) worked flawlessly! In this age of highly complicated receivers with long lists of features, gimmicks, gadgets, networking capabilities, and complex audio and video decoding and processing, it's nice to see one that delivers without a hitch right out of the box. In my experience, this is a rarity. I'm very satisfied with this purchase and although I really wanted the Yamaha RX-A3020 to work for me, in some ways I'm glad it didn't otherwise I would've easily overlooked this new Denon model. It just works and works well. Having the best OSD (on screen display) and interface among the other receivers I mentioned on this review doesn't hurt either. Highly recommend it.
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on November 10, 2012
I think a lot of people whom are considering this class of AVR are coming from last generations 4 series (avr-4311ci), so this review will cover differences for those people.

FOR those who DON'T currently own a 4 series, let me just say it's an amazing receiver, IF you are building a serious theater room or listening area it's WELL worth the money (relative). It is one of the very few receivers that can handle 11.2 channel DSX and with it's additional capability, features, and quality it is truly currently the king of all receivers in 2012.

FOR AVR4311ci Folks:

First off, the amplification circuitry looks to be about the same, same power ratings.

They tweaked the Audyssey even though Denon claims they didn't, because I'm getting significant different results from my AVR-4311ci in the same room, same speakers, same everything. They tweaked it for the better, because everything sounds to blend perfectly, and the eq's records dead on once I mic'd the room using an external source. AFTER enabling the XT32 results and the response curve is perfect. This is to verify for the folks out there, LEAVE the Audyssey XT32 EQ on, it works PERFECT, I'm hoping my extra steps of measurement will save you time in your setup if you question what it's doing. Just make sure to perform Audyssey DSX property and use all 8 listening locations as it is measuring the acoustics of the room NOT seating locations. Even if you have a single chair in the room, use all 8 locations to measure the acoustics around the room per Audysseys recommended locations.

I had to adjust the levels of the surround speakers and sub since I always consider those levels too low for my taste (a preference thing). The EQ remains in tact with these manual adjustments.

The screen settings are all the same, but way snappier, this unit has better micro controllers handling the work, so everything including calculating results is much quicker.

Denon moved away from their "NASCAR" days and simplified the front of the their receiver with less logos, instead they are on the top plate now. I hated all the logos.

They removed the Audyssey DSX blue light when on, that was sad, I enjoyed that blue light.

New features include:

NEO:X which is a different 11.2 implementation (it's worth trying to see your preference)
4k up-scaling for when those 4k displays come down in price
Intstapreview (much like a picture in picture, but 4 views from your sources VERY cool)
Built in 4 port Hub (10/100mbps) actually very useful since everything now a days is Ethernet based
They moved over to THREE 32bit DACs to decode the audio, so we gain a better resolution in your music / movies!!
Apple Airplay built in

Network streaming (works great, my Samsung GS3 android didn't need additional software it just saw the receiver and asked if I wanted to play music on it instead of the built in speakers on the phone). I was VERY surprised this worked out of the box with my phone and receiver, then the volume control of my phone was controlling the reciever!! Very cool!!!

Ability to customize what amplifier circuits do what. Pretty amazing if you have a unique listening room or multiple seating locations and want multiple side surround speakers.

Audyssey LFC which modifies the subwoofer frequencys and amplitudes in a such a way you can still use your sub but it won't rattle the walls or get too loud. This feature is for people with kids or living in condos / apartments so they don't wake up people at night or bug their neighbors. I heard great things from other people with this receiver but I don't use this feature.

4 Zones of control including video on a few!! Pretty crazy. They designed this receiver to be in a rack somewhere and control everything in your house from audio to movies to different tv layouts. If you use it to it's full capability it can help you save money by just using a single unit for multiple rooms.

New Physical layouts include:

1 inch taller
Heavier
Less logos on the front face (classier)
Much nicer banana terminals on the back
Everything gold plated

Everything else remains from the AVR4311ci.

Overall I'm VERY happy to have upgraded, the Audyssey result differences alone was worth it, the extra DACs, network streaming, 4k upscaling to protect for the future, and other features was just icing on the cake.

Remember these receivers (4 series) only come out every 2-3 years hence why they changed their model number designator (the 20 in 4520ci) to let customers know this is not a normal yearly released product.

With the features they packed into this receiver, you will not need to upgrade for MANY years.

For those who are considering Audyssey DSX, let me say that I have a 11.2 setup. I will say from a typical 5.1 setup the addition of WIDES will make the biggest audible upgrade. They sound AMAZING and well worth the time and effort to set them up.

The addition of heights next will be an upgrade but not as significant as the addition of the wides

Lastly the addition of surround backs which I think add 5% content to movies, and only worth it as your last possible upgrade.

Good luck folks!!
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on March 21, 2014
I recently upgraded from a 12 year old Denon 4802 and couldn't be happier. I removed my rear surrounds and now have 9.1 with height and wide channels engaged. The soundstage is amazing. Very pleased with the purchase.
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on July 27, 2015
Excellent
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All the power and amenities needed for a great home theater...
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on September 14, 2014
I got this receiver for a fraction of MSRP and this receiver is a beast. I upgraded from HK avr 3700 for mare channels. I did not feel hell of a difference but Denon sounded better (of course it's twice the cost). Plenty of features and nice app.
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on March 11, 2016
Is the best reciver
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on May 6, 2015
Second one I purchased and both went bad. Fortunately this malfunction within 30 day period. And Denon customer service is a joke.
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on March 7, 2015
The X5200W is arguably a "downgrade" compared to the slightly older FLAGSHIP AVR-4520CI Denon.

The Differences:
X5200W has the new Dolby Atmos, kinda overhyped imo. (Cons: Few speakers support the technology yet, and if they do, ATMOS-ENABLED SPEAKERS ARE EXPENSIVE ADD-ONS, and it means running extra wires at the expense of fewer channels; e.g. you could have a 9.2 or 5.2.4, with the last 4 being top-firing speakers either on your ceiling or on add-on's top of existing speakers -- this means you lose rear surround and front height potentially). Besides, it's only good for cinema, yet-to-be released blu-ray discs. It's not great for music, despite the hype. Stick to DTS or ProLogic IIz. You won't use Atmos... for now at least.

X5200W has built in Wifi (Airplay) and BT. Never a bad thing. But the 4520CI has 4 (FOUR) ethernet ports, and no Wifi or BT. How to get around that? Answer: Monster Powernet 200 or Similar!!! Blazing fast speed ethernet connections over your friggin' power line! I thought it was a scam at first but then bought 4 and wired all my receivers with ethernet Airplay instead of Wifi Airplay (even though I have 802.11ac). AMAZING LOSSLESS AIRPLAY THAT DOESN'T DROP. And screw Bluetooth -- BT has horrible data transmission quality and range.

The most notable difference? The Audssey 32BIT Platinum encoding DAC in the 4520CI, and the Audssey Platinum EQ32bit room calibration. 24-bit regular in the X5200W. If you don't believe in Audssey, it's because you've never tried their top of the line technology. BEAUTIFUL musical sound and warmth through it. And I use the 150WPC @8ohms to drive Focal Electra 1027 BE's ($8600 speakers) with an Aria 900, Profile SW904, and 4 Focal 806V's as surround/rear surrounds. A $16k speaker system driven by a relatively inexpensive $2500MSRP amp (now heavily discounted). And it sounds AMAZING for music.

RE: All the 1-star reviews... Don't buy 'em used or refurbished. Buy them new from an authorized dealer with 3 years warranty. Apparently there was a bad lot produced early on. I've used mine perfectly for over a year. Full Denon 3-year warranty with it -- pretty generous. General rule of thumb, if any electronic device is going to break, it's going to do so in the first 3-6 months.
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on November 12, 2014
I picked this model up after research on the web, and after several days am very impressed. I've owned several receivers previous to this one, including 2 flagship Onkyos( 876 and 906) and a Denon 3803. This receiver sounds better than anything I've encountered in a receiver.

I'm a bit of a purist, and don't need some of the highly technical features this unit has, but sound quality counts alot, as does functionality. The 4520 has both in spades. The Audyssey XT32 doe absolute magic with your room acoustics and the amp section lacks nothing at this price point. I went from a separate 7 channel amp with the Onkyo to this(Outlaw Audio 7125) and I'm almost surprised to say that the Denon is so powerful and effortless that I don't miss the amp.

I've watched several movies, and the effects are so well produced and moved around the room the walls just disappear. The sub is integrated into the sound seamlessly and the dialogue is clear and easy to hear, whereas with the Onkyo I tended to increase the center channel.

I don't need video processing, so haven't experimented with it. But several features are cool, including the Low frequency containment, for those with picky neighbours will come in very handy. In direct comparison with the Onkyos, the Denon has superior sound, much quicker HDMI handshake, better volume adjustment, better sub tuning, cooler running and more flexible set up options like assignable amps. Denon has also been much more reliable than Onkyo in the last 5 years. For the retail price this AVR might be too much, but at the clearance prices now available, it's simply a no-brainer. You can find it for over half off the 2500 asking price.

Do note, however, the reason they are being cleared out is the replacement model has been released, and it has Dolby Atmos. Not a big deal for me( a total of 4 movies have been released as blurays with an Atmos track), but if you've gotta have the latest bells and whistles, Atmos might be your thing. After considering it and researching, I decided I'm not going to redo my theater with speakers on the ceiling that Atmos requires. This thing should be on everybody's short list, and it's made in Japan, not China.
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